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A Collection of Short Poems by Robert Browning

Below you'll find a variety of shorter poems by Robert Browning.

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.


Visit these other works by Robert Browning
"Andrea del Sarto"
"Any Wife to Any Husband"
"The Boy and the Angel"
"Caliban upon Setebos"
"Fra Lippo Lippi"
"The Glove"
"How it Strikes a Contemporary"
"The Italian in England"

"A Lovers' Quarrel"
"Master Hugues of Saxe-Gotha"
"My Last Duchess"
"The Pied Piper of Hamelin"
"Protus"
"Rabbi Ben Ezra"
"The Statue and the Bust"
"Time's Revenges"



Potential uses for the free books, stories and prose we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, poem or story.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain eBooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a classic poem or short story for use in the classroom.

NOTE: We try to present these classic poetic works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.


"After" by Robert Browning

AFTER

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Take the cloak from his face, and at first
Let the corpse do its worst!

How he lies in his rights of a man!
Death has done all death can.
And, absorbed in the new life he leads,
He recks not, he heeds
Nor his wrong nor my vengeance; both strike
On his senses alike,
And are lost in the solemn and strange
Surprise of the change.

Ha, what avails death to erase
His offence, my disgrace?
I would we were boys as of old
In the field, by the fold:
His outrage, God's patience, man's scorn
Were so easily borne!

I stand here now, he lies in his place:
Cover the face!


"Apparitions" by Robert Browning

APPARITIONS

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Such a starved bank of moss
Till, that May-morn,
Blue ran the flash across:
Violets were born!

Sky--what a scowl of cloud
Till, near and far,
Ray on ray split the shroud:
Splendid, a star!

World--how it walled about
Life with disgrace,
Till God's own smile came out:
That was thy face!


"Earth's Immortalities" by Robert Browning

EARTH'S IMMORTALITIES

BY ROBERT BROWNING

FAME

See, as the prettiest graves will do in time,
Our poet's wants the freshness of its prime;
Spite of the sexton's browsing horse, the sods
Have struggled through its binding osier-rods;
Headstone and half-sunk footstone lean awry,
Wanting the brick-work promised by-and-by;
How the minute gray lichens, plate o'er plate,
Have softened down the crisp-cut name and date!

LOVE

So, the year's done with!
(Love me forever!)
All March begun with,
April's endeavour;
May-wreaths that bound me
June needs must sever;
Now snows fall round me,
Quenching June's fever--
(Love me forever!)


"Epilogue to Asolando" by Robert Browning

EPILOGUE TO "ASOLANDO"

BY ROBERT BROWNING

At midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,
When you set your fancies free,
Will they pass to where--by death, fools think, imprisoned--
Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,
--Pity me?

Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!
What had I on earth to do
With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly?
Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel
--Being--who?

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, tho' right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.

No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time
Greet the unseen with a cheer!
Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be,
"Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed,--fight on, fare ever
There as here!"


"A Face" by Robert Browning

A FACE

BY ROBERT BROWNING

If one could have that little head of hers
Painted upon a background of pale gold,
Such as the Tuscan's early art prefers!
No shade encroaching on the matchless mould
Of those two lips, which should be opening soft
In the pure profile; not as when she laughs,
For that spoils all: but rather as if aloft
Yon hyacinth, she loves so, leaned its staff's
Burden of honey-colored buds to kiss
And capture 'twixt the lips apart for this.
Then her lithe neck, three fingers might surround,
How it should waver on the pale gold ground
Up to the fruit-shaped, perfect chin it lifts!
I know, Correggio loves to mass, in rifts
Of heaven, his angel faces, orb on orb
Breaking its outline, burning shades absorb:
But these are only massed there, I should think,
Waiting to see some wonder momently
Grow out, stand full, fade slow against the sky
(That's the pale ground you'd see this sweet face by),
All heaven, meanwhile, condensed into one eye
Which fears to lose the wonder, should it wink.


"Home-Thoughts, from Abroad"

HOME THOUGHTS, FROM ABROAD

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brush-wood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England--now!

II.

And after April, when May follows,
And the white-throat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops--at the bent spray's edge--
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
--Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!


"Home-Thoughts, from the Sea"

HOME-THOUGHTS, FROM THE SEA

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Nobly, nobly, Cape Saint Vincent to the North-West died away;
Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;
Bluish 'mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;
In the dimmest North-East distance dawned Gibraltar grand and gray;
"Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?"--say,
Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.


"Life in a Love" by Robert Browning

LIFE IN A LOVE

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Escape me?
Never--
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And baffled, get up to begin again,--
So the chase takes up one's life, that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound,
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope drops to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me--
Ever
Removed!


"The Lost Mistress" by Robert Browning
0
THE LOST MISTRESS

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

All's over, then: does truth sound bitter
As one at first believes?
Hark, 'tis the sparrows' good-night twitter
About your cottage eaves!

II.

And the leaf-buds on the vine are woolly,
I noticed that, to-day;
One day more bursts them open fully
--You know the red turns gray.

III.

To-morrow we meet the same then, dearest?
May I take your hand in mine?
Mere friends are we,--well, friends the merest
Keep much that I resign:

IV.

For each glance of the eye so bright and black,
Though I keep with heart's endeavor,--
Your voice, when you wish the snowdrops back,
Though it stay in my soul forever!--

V.

Yet I will but say what mere friends say,
Or only a thought stronger;
I will hold your hand but as long as all may,
Or so very little longer!


"Love in a Life" by Robert Browning
1
LOVE IN A LIFE

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her--
Next time, herself!--not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew:
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.

II.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune--
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,--who cares?
But 't is twilight, you see,--with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!


"Meeting at Night" by Robert Browning
2
MEETING AT NIGHT

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

II.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!


"Misconceptions" by Robert Browning
3
MISCONCEPTIONS

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

This is a spray the Bird clung to,
Making it blossom with pleasure,
Ere the high tree-top she sprung to,
Fit for her nest and her treasure.
Oh, what a hope beyond measure
Was the poor spray's, which the flying feet hung to,--
So to be singled out, built in, and sung to!

II.

This is a heart the Queen leant on,
Thrilled in a minute erratic,
Ere the true bosom she bent on,
Meet for love's regal dalmatic.
Oh, what a fancy ecstatic
Was the poor heart's, ere the wanderer went on--
Love to be saved for it, proffered to, spent on!


"My Star" by Robert Browning
4
MY STAR

BY ROBERT BROWNING

All that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.


"Never the Time and the Place" by Robert Browning
5
NEVER THE TIME AND THE PLACE

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Never the time and the place
And the loved one all together!
This path -- how soft to pace!
This May -- what magic weather!
Where is the loved one's face?
In a dream that loved one's face meets mine,
But the house is narrow, the place is bleak,
Where, outside, rain and wind combine
With a furtive ear, if I strive to speak,
With a hostile eye at my flushing cheek,

With a malice that marks each word, each sign!
O enemy sly and serpentine,
Uncoil thee from the waking man!
Do I hold the Past
Thus firm and fast,
Yet doubt if the Future hold I can?
This path so soft to pace shall lead
Through the magic of May to herself indeed!
Or narrow if needs the house must be,
Outside are the storms and strangers: we--
Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she,
I and she!


"One Way Of Love" by Robert Browning
6
ONE WAY OF LOVE

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

All June I bound the rose in sheaves.
Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves,
And strew them where Pauline may pass.
She will not turn aside? Alas!
Let them lie. Suppose they die?
The chance was they might take her eye.

II.

How many a month I strove to suit
These stubborn fingers to the lute!
To-day I venture all I know.
She will not hear my music? So!
Break the string; fold music's wing:
Suppose Pauline had bade me sing!

III.

My whole life long I learned to love.
This hour my utmost art I prove
And speak my passion--Heaven or hell?
She will not give me heaven? 'Tis well!
Lose who may--I still can say,
Those who win heaven, blest are they!


"Parting at Morning" by Robert Browning
7
PARTING AT MORNING

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
And the sun looked over the mountain's rim:
And straight was a path of gold for him,
And the need of a world of men for me.


"Respectability" by Robert Browning
8
RESPECTABILITY

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

DEAR, had the world in its caprice
Deigned to proclaim "I know you both,
Have recognized your plighted troth,
Am sponsor for you: live in peace!"--
How many precious months and years
Of youth had passed, that speed so fast,
Before we found it out at last,
The world, and what it fears?

II.

How much of priceless life were spent
With men that every virtue decks,
And women models of their sex,
Society's true ornament,--
Ere we dared wander, nights like this,
Through wind and rain, and watch the Seine,
And feel the Boulevard break again
To warmth and light and bliss?

III.

I know! the world proscribes not love;
Allows my finger to caress
Your lip's contour and downiness,
Provided it supply a glove.
The world's good word!--the Institute!
Guizot receives Montalembert!
Eh? Down the court three lampions flare:
Put forward your best foot!


"Song" by Robert Browning
9
SONG

BY ROBERT BROWNING

I.

Nay but you, who do not love her,
Is she not pure gold, my mistress?
Holds earth aught--speak truth--above her?
Aught like this tress, see, and this tress,
And this last fairest tress of all,
So fair, see, ere I let it fall!

II.

Because, you spend your lives in praising;
To praise, you search the wide world over:
Then why not witness, calmly gazing,
If earth holds aught--speak truth--above her?
Above this tress, and this, I touch
But cannot praise, I love so much!


"Wanting Is -- What?" by Robert Browning
0
WANTING IS -- WHAT?

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Wanting is -- what?
Summer redundant,
Blueness abundant,
--Where is the blot?
Beamy the world, yet a blank all the same,
--Framework which waits for a picture to frame:
What of the leafage, what of the flower?
Roses embowering with naught they embower!
Come then, complete incompletion, O comer,
Pant through the blueness, perfect the summer!
Breathe but one breath
Rose-beauty above,
And all that was death
Grows life, grows love,
Grows love!


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